OP-ED: Proof is in the data — Yorkers' sacrifices have saved lives

Julie Wheeler
York County President Commissioner
Volunteer Ron Oelrich, right, of Manchester Township, hands supplies, including baby formula, to Jay Dodd, of York City, at The WELL – Food Pantry at Union Lutheran Church in York City, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The pantry is open 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. the second Saturday of the month. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Our community has made significant strides forward in combating this deadly virus. The sacrifices made by all have in fact saved lives. Transitioning to the yellow phase is testament to the collective effort by this community to take seriously the virus’ deadly impact. I have never been more proud to be a York countian. Based upon the criteria set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, York County’s approach met those important data points. We remained vigilant in our pursuit to move our data in the positive direction to take this step forward as a county. 

We have committed our best faith efforts to meet the call of this commonwealth.

There are innumerable scenarios as to how this crisis could have unfolded and far too many could easily have included many more Pennsylvanians falling ill and dying. I now hear statements such as “it isn’t as bad as predicted,” or “our hospitals are not overrun.” These are all testaments to the success of social distancing. The strategy put in place to stay apart and keep our distance is working. The evidence is in the data.

Collaboration has been an integral part in positioning York County to transition to the next phase of recovery. Our two largest health care providers, WellSpan Health and UPMC, have been hand in hand with the county on many initiatives aimed at fighting COVID 19.

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Julie Wheeler, a businesswoman and Republican committeewoman from Windsor Township, is running for the York County Board of Commissioners.

Dr. Matt Howie, our county’s Health Strategist and York City Health Bureau director, has remained a trusted advisor and fosterer of partnerships. The York County Economic Alliance has demonstrated tremendous efforts to assist in providing a one-stop shop for our business community and all of those economically impacted by establishing They continue to partner with the county in our YoCo Strong Recovery Task Force and now provide all the tools online to assist in the reopening.

Our Planning Commission and Coalition for Homelessness remains on the front lines, collaborating to protect our vulnerable populations. They work alongside Community Progress Council, Family First Health, the York County Food Bank and RabbitTransit to ensure transportation, shelter and food are readily available.

These are just a few examples of collaboration fostered amid this crisis. We could not have come this far without our community working collectively for the good.

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While there is much uncertainty and anxiety about what lies ahead, we will get through this together. And we will be stronger as a community. Our resolve has been tested. The foundation of our society has been shaken. We have families who have suffered tragic and irreplaceable loss.

We have terrific leaders who care deeply about the health and well-being of our community. They are working day and night to meet the challenges that face us. They are committed, compassionate and relentless in their pursuit to best position York to weather this storm. I am truly humbled to be working alongside them. They inspire me.

A special thank you to all who are on the front lines serving our community. Whether it’s our first responders, our health care professionals, county workforce and organizations providing 24/7 services, to our trusted grocery store clerks and delivery personnel, you are appreciated.

As a nation, a state and a county, we have been tested before. We will again. York rises to those challenges and collectively, we help each other through it.

We created a County Recovery Task Force, three weeks ago in preparation for this transition. We now make the shift from treatment to recovery, never losing site of the importance of continual mitigation.

The Recovery Task Force is charged to lean on subject matter experts representing all aspects of our society to evaluate what has worked, what has not, and to offer recommendations to mitigate future impact, leverage all of our county’s assets, formulate public policy recommendations, and ensure an equitable and inclusive recovery that benefits all. These recommendations will inform our recovery and help write the playbook for future pandemic planning. These recommendations will hasten our restart and protect against any future virus resurgence.

Please visit for further information on recovery plans and information on what it means to transition to the yellow phase

We will survive this crisis with compassion, wisdom, humility and the understanding that we are all imperfect but we all strive to accomplish the greatest of good for each other and our commonwealth.

Thank you, York County!